GreenYes Digest V97 #28

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GreenYes Digest Sun, 16 Feb 97 Volume 97 : Issue 28

Today's Topics:
GRN CAMPAIGNS: The Great Paper Caper

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Date: Sat, 15 Feb 97 19:31:02 PST


1. This draft was co-written by Susan Kinsella of Kinsella and Associates,
and Daniel Knapp of Urban Ore, Inc. Both live and work in the San Francisco
Bay Area, California, USA. It includes concepts from Gary Liss's National
Recycling Coalition speech, the draft California Resource Recovery
Association's "Agenda for the Next Millennium" (Ted Ward, principal author),
Redefining Progress, Bill Sheehan, and comments from a number of Grassroots
Recycling Network GREENYES listserve participants on the first draft (including
Rodger Clarke, Roger Diedrich, Richard Kashmanian, Larry Martin, John Reindl,
David Reynolds, Rhys Roth, Jeffrey Smedberg, Dave Wade, and others).

2. No Waste by 2010, the waste management strategy for the Australian Capital
Territory (ACT), has just been released by the ACT Department of Urban
Services in December, 1996. This 23-page, elegantly printed booklet can be
ordered from ACT Waste, PO Box 788, Civic Square ACT 2608, Australia.
Minister for Urban Services Tony De Domenico says in a message to the
readers that "We are the first Government anywhere to embrace such a bold
target - of becoming a waste free society." The ACT is analogous to our
Washington District of Columbia - a land area that is home to Canberra, the
Capitol City of the Australian nation.

3. Compared, for example, to manufacturing computers or handling discards as
solid wastes.

4. This phrase was coined by David Kirkpatrick, a charter member of the
Grassroots Recycling Network. In 1995 and 1996, Mr. Kirkpatrick studied the
materials recovery industry in North Carolina and found over 600 growing
businesses with cash flows averaging $1 million each. The overwhelming
majority were private for-profit corporations. Extrapolating from these
figures to the entire United States, there may be as many as 20,000
independent recovery businesses operating today.

5. A set of twelve master categories that satisfies these criteria was
developed and tested in Berkeley, California in 1988-89. Since then,
versions of this category set have been adopted by at least two local
governments in California. Perhaps more important, private-sector
consultants are testing applications of the twelve-category concept in many
locations within the USA and Australia. The twelve master discard categories
are: reusable goods, paper, metal, glass, polymers, putrescibles, ceramics,
soils, plant debris, textiles, wood, and chemicals.

6. Other names used in commerce include integrated resource recovery
facilities (West Virginia); serial materials recovery facilities
(California); discard management centers (California); resource recovery
estates (Canberra, Australia). It is our understanding that these names are
generic and as such cannot be trademarked; they are part of the public
property already created by the modern recycling movement.


Date: Sat, 15 Feb 1997 11:49:30, -0500
Subject: GRN CAMPAIGNS: The Great Paper Caper


Thank you,

Dave Reynolds
Date: Fri, 14 Feb 1997 23:23:31 -0800 (PST)
From: "William P. McGowan" <>
Subject: Re: GRN CAMPAIGNS: The Great Paper Caper

I am responding to the note posted on this list under the title
under subject--I would address it to the author had s/he signed it.

First, I think whoever wrote the piece is viewing the economy in
such a
narrow way as to over-simplify the argument. You imply that
recycling is
in trouble because the Republicans and "industry," a category that is

undefined, no longer feel the pressure to recycle. I whole

What has delayed and impeded the expansion of curbside programs is
same thing that brought earlier movements to change the way we
waste to a halt: waning public interest and decreasing public dollars

available to fund recycling programs. The Republicans, and
Newt Gingrich, may be blamed for public recycling's declining
currency, but I would argue that it is the tax-payer who is really
bringing things to a halt.

Over the last 150 years, there have been four major reform movements

dedicated to changing our wasteful habits (late 1890s, 1930s, 1960s,
late 1980s). In each case, reform movements sprnag from the grass
roots, created a groundswell in favor of change, and created change

using legilsative vehicles. After legislation and the
institutionalization of these changes, often in the form of new
the movement fades as the public finds that it either a) interested
other, more compelling issues, or, b) they are no longer willing to
as much for a good as they had been in the past. In each case, the
reform movement is ended then, by changing public attitudes that are
at the control of politicians.

Consider recycling's present dilemma here in California. As we get

further and further away from the passage of our landmark bill, AB939,
see how the grounds supporting it have shifted. Seven years ago,
lanmdfill rates in the LA Basin were steadily rising, and recycling
increasingly made good business sense--if you could recycle for less
disposal, it was automatic that recycling would happen once started.
over the last year and a half, the cost of landfilling down here is
actually dropping in real dollars. Recycling makes less sense as it
begins to cost more to recycle than dispose. No monolithic
enforces this change, no politician does it.

It is the market, filling vacuums. One of the greatest frustration
economist has about today's environmental movements is that they tend
ignore the market at their peril. While condemning the inequality of

result, advocates of environmental reform never seem to grasp the
positive good the market can bring to there goals.

Consider the idea of subsidizing recycling versus real-cost
for disposal. Under the subsidiziation prgram, you create the
to bureacratize the economy, as the subsidized programs must be
by some sort of an administrative support structure. This also takes
the copnsumer's choice. Since this
structure is publicly owned, it must be assumed that to fund the
taxes either have to be raised or shifted from other programs. Under

real cost-disposal, the state creates a disincentive to dispose by
including everything under the sun in the disposal fee and then gets
of the way, allowing individuals to make choice. Some will choose to
wasteful, but most will not.

Finally, consider the regressivity of the subisidization programs.

Beacuse subisidization requires administration, taxes are raised on
households regardless of ability to pay, taking a greater percentage
poorer people's incomes.

In short, I think if the GRN is really wanting to work towards more
recycling, you are going to have to figure out a very pro-market
approach. You may not like what the capitalist system created, but
at how clean our, the USA's, environment is relative to any other
country. Indeed, the countries that tried the opposite of
are now perhaps the most polluted regions in the globe. Capitalism,
short, must become part of the envrionemntal movement if the movement
to survive long term.

Its nice to think that all of recycling's problems were created by
white men sitting in a darkened room drinking hard liquor and smoking

cigars, but it ain't so.

Bill McGowan
Rincon Recycling


Date: Sat, 15 Feb 97 19:30:52 PST
Subject: GRN ZERO WASTE, VER 2.0



Remember the Grassroots Recycling Network's Zero Waste Policy Paper
that was posted on the greenyes listserve last November (and was
published in Recycling Times in December)? We got quite a few comments
-- many saying we needed more emphasis on *upstream* processes -- and
have not forgotten them! Susan Kinsella has been hard at work addressing
the comments, adding her own touch, and going back and forth with Dan
Knapp, principal author of the first draft. Many thanks to Susan and Dan
for their hard work, and to all those who have made input (see Endnote 1).

This is still a living, working document. Please give us your two cents via
the greenyes listserve. The next version will be sent next month to folks
coming to the GRN Zero Waste Action Campaign kick-off conference in
Atlanta (April 5-7), for *ratification* at the event.



Zero Waste is a new vision for a new millennium. It is a goal, a process, a
way of thinking that profoundly changes our approach to resources and
production. Not only is Zero Waste about recycling and diversion from
landfills, it also restructures production and distribution systems to
prevent waste from being manufactured in the first place. What materials are
still required in these redesigned, resource-efficient systems will be
recycled right back into production.

* Zero Waste requires preventing rather than managing waste.

* Zero Waste turns discarded resources into jobs instead of trash.

* Zero Waste supports an economy that provides for a comfortable society
without robbing the future.

* Zero Waste emulates natural systems where everything that wears out or dies
becomes food or shelter, however temporarily, for something else, giving rise
to a vibrant yet efficient flow of energy and resources.

Today is a splendid time to put forward this large, generous, hopeful vision
for our future. We, the Grassroots Recycling Network, are united in the
belief that Zero Waste is both feasible and required if we are to convert to
a sustainable human culture for our shared planet Earth and beyond.

As hands-on recyclers, environmentalists, policymakers and business people,
we have banded together into a virtual policy pressure group to push
governments and economies to adopt zero waste as "the way things are done."


Almost all materials we use to manufacture products start with natural
resources. Far too many of our production systems still cause negative
impacts, including: mining, forestry and agricultural practices that create
ecological damage and pollution, use too much energy and cause social
dislocation; manufacturing processes that require virgin rather than recycled
resources; distribution systems that increase waste and pollution; and
disposal systems that waste the potential for continued use in discarded
materials. Far too many of the refined products that flow through our
economies end up concentrated in landfills, burned in incinerators, or wasted
in other ways.

Our worldwide manufacturing, distribution, and disposal systems have evolved
with support from laws and practices over more than 150 years that encouraged
the rapid conversion of natural resources into finished products. To some,
the land appeared so vast it could absorb any amount of pollution while
giving up its wealth endlessly. Today everyone knows this was an illusion.

Even though our ancestors' dedication to industrial development has spurred
tremendous production and technological achievements, continuing this
approach to production life cycles cannot sustain a healthy, satisfying
quality of life for the world's vastly increased population as we enter the
21st century.

By adopting Zero Waste as our goal right now, we shift job creation to reuse,
recycling, and composting industries that transform discarded materials into
resources. Many people left out of the current economy will be able to find
interesting and fulfilling work in these efficient and inventive businesses.
We will need to change our laws and economic measurements to facilitate this
changeover to an abundant economy that rewards creativity, efficiency,
community, healthy families and environmental protection.

Zero Waste visualizes our economy as a circular or spiral system in which
every part supports and affects every other. We seek to replace the current
outdated linear economic and production system, which does not recognize the
interconnectedness of impacts and the trail of wastes left behind.


What we now call "trash" is unfortunate waste, resources rendered useless and
worthless by failed handling systems. Any disposal system that manufactures
wastes from resources requires the extraction of more natural resources from
the earth to create replacements. Wastes are resources that could and should
have been conserved. Minimizing wasted materials reduces energy and water
use as well as pollution.

To understand better how the products we create help or harm the environment
we depend on, we need to ask:

* Is the product necessary?

* Can it be made from materials that minimize negative environmental effects?

* Can it be designed to reduce the materials required and the toxics produced?

* Can it be safely shipped with minimal packaging?

* Can it be reused, recycled, or composted easily when the user finishes with

We must tell our industrial process engineers and developers to intensify
their efforts toward designing production systems that do not pollute or
release toxics into the environment. These professionals are already creating
some closed loop manufacturing facilities that neutralize toxics; treat
discarded materials, energy, and water as feedstocks for the next production
stage; and clean up and reuse materials in benign ways.

We must shift our attention from quantity to quality by recognizing all the
social and environmental impacts of a product's life cycle. Instead of
rewarding companies for producing single-use, unrecyclable products and
packaging, we should encourage companies to produce more durable products
that are more easily repairable, lease some products with full service
guarantees instead of selling them outright, and create more modular designs
so that complex products can be more easily upgraded. We should also require
them to include in their pricing the full cost of the product's production,
including environmental damage, lost habitat, actual (not subsidized) costs
of resource extraction, and proper disposal through reuse, recycling, and

We should ensure that all people have access to the basic material goods they
need for a healthy, creative, and satisfying life, instead of valuing people
based on their wealth, overconsumption, and opulence. Overconsumption is a
form of wasting, not a thing to be envied.

Legal structures should be changed by legislatures or by citizen initiative
to reward conservation, quality, and service. All grants and subsidies to the
solid waste landfill and incinerator industries should be eliminated, along
with all barriers to materials recovery competition such as flow control and
exclusive franchises to handle all "wastes."

Accounting practices and economic indicators (such as the GDP) should focus
on developing a balance sheet that internalizes the true benefits and costs
of all products and services, including all environmental and societal
benefits and costs. This more accurate and complete reckoning should
recognize essential but unpaid activities such as family care and volunteer
service. The goal should be to ferret out and eliminate all incentives to
waste and societal breakdown and to quantify all currently ignored
"externalities" and bring them into the pricing structure.

Changes along these lines are already underway in the USA and around the
world.[2] By uniting behind the banner of Zero Waste, we seek to make these
ideas as customary and comfortable as the old outmoded millennial idea that
everyone had an unlimited license to waste.


We need to develop and implement a new national materials policy that
encourages conservation and resource recovery and attacks unnecessary
resource extraction and pollution. We need to shift taxation from "goods"
such as labor and capital to "bads" such as pollution and waste.

We should eliminate tax credits for mining, extraction, and harvesting
natural resources; exemptions from hazardous waste regulations for mining
wastes; and energy subsidies that protect wasteful practices. The playing
field should be leveled between the recovered resource industries and the
natural resource industries. Granting free federal road-building to benefit
timber companies is one example of a subsidy that should be eliminated.
Publicly-owned timber-harvesting and mining rights should be sold at prices
that reflect their actual scarcity and value, significantly higher than the
current firesale prices.

We should promote and provide economic incentives for product designs that
encourage repair, resale, reuse, durability and recyclability.

Labeling standards should be revised to provide information on recycled and
postconsumer content even if it is zero, as well as realistic instructions on
how to dispose of products through reuse, recycling, and composting.
Something similar to the Toxics Release Inventory should be developed to
report the amounts and types of materials being used, reused, recycled,
composted, and wasted so the public can learn about and judge the true state
of material efficiency for our economies.

Mandates requiring minimum recycled content have worked and should be
protected from reactionary attempts to eliminate them. Mandates and product
disposal charges should be extended to more product lines. Manufacturers
should be encouraged to shift from selling products outright to leasing them
under contracts that include long-term maintenance services and provisions
for returning them to be rendered into useful parts for remanufacturing.

Products and materials that are unrecyclable should be banned unless their
manufacturers can present acceptable alternative benefits such as longevity,
durability, or long-term repairability. Banning can be accomplished through
legislation, court action, or voluntary cutbacks.

Materials recovery should be integrated into the design of industrial parks.
Policies should be developed that encourage industrial park management to
recruit tenants that have complementary production processes such that
discards from one facility can be taken in as feedstocks for other
facilities. We support the growing movement toward establishing
eco-industrial parks, and we want to link up with the best practitioners in
the field of industrial ecology.

We should take full advantage of the fact that materials recovery industries
are relatively labor-intensive and skill-intensive rather than
capital-intensive.[3] We should work with economic development professionals
in governments to make sure they understand the way resource recovery
integrates marginalized social groups into mainstream economic life.

We should continue educating the public about the damages caused by
overconsumption and waste. Consumers must understand that they are paying
far more than they have to because of previous bad disposal practices that led
directly to environmental cleanup costs and health maintenance costs for
people and properties damaged by pollution.


For those goods that are already part of the built environment we share, we
should provide consciously for ecological disposal of all their constituent
elements. Here are some starting principles to follow during the transition

The materials recovery industry today is overwhelmingly a small business
phenomenon.[4] Entrepreneurs are working on combinations of technology and
human organization that convert nearly everything we currently waste into
products valuable enough to be traded. We should build our Zero Waste
movement upon this existing foundation.

Everyone needs to agree on a set of master categories that describe
everything now "thrown away" in recoverable terms, with nothing left out and
nothing left over. Master discard categories are very large aggregations of
material: metals, glass, paper, plant debris, and such. The list of master
categories should be short enough to be easily committed to memory. It
should be free of conceptual wastebaskets such as "other organics" or
"inerts." It should be used as a common protocol for all discard
characterization studies, so that results can be comparable across all
jurisdictions. For now, we think there are about a dozen of these master

The point of having a master discard category set is to use it in building
facilities that handle each and every discard category as a resource, not a
waste. Designs for these facilities can be quite varied. There are many
different ways to recover the same resource. Each master category can be
subdivided into an infinite number of subcategories matching different
processes and end-uses. Fitting varied resource streams to sites and to
collections of available equipment and labor is a major part of the Zero
Waste challenge.

Rather than relying on natural resources, channels for manufacturing and
distribution should flow through these comprehensive recovery facilities,
variously called resource recovery parks, discard malls, or eco-industrial
parks.[6] (This reverses the usual flow of materials, with recovered materials
being used at the beginning of the process rather than being left over at the
end.) Most of our production elements should come from refined resources
generated by these recovery processes.

Public and private development of materials recovery facilities should be
built around Zero Waste concepts. Such facilities would include many
enterprises co-existing in a cluster much like an airport or shopping mall,
with managed competition and cooperation. Such facilities should include
businesses that reuse and repair.

Manufacturers should be asked and, if necessary, required to be more
responsible for the collection and recovery of the "disposable" products they
create. These products must be recoverable by reuse, recycling, and
composting, whichever is their highest and best use. Disposal of all discards
should be handled with the same care and respect as disposal of an estate or
disposal of business assets.

All discarded materials have resource potential.

We must replace solid waste management with resource management. Collection
containers that mix all discarded material together, then mix, pulverize and
crush the materials to pack them into the smallest space possible, should be
used for separated materials only. Variable rate pricing for garbage
collection should be the rule, with citizens who recycle most paying least
for garbage disposal. Collectors should be free to charge what the market
will bear for the service of collecting low-value but recyclable discard

Economic barriers should be torn down that protect the solid waste landfill
and incinerator industries from competition with the materials recovery
industries. Flow control for recyclables and garbage should be eliminated.

We must drive home the point that burying and burning cancels any potential
for repeated recovery of the accumulated wealth that is being wasted. Allow
the disposal price structure to adjust to the condition of free competition
for the discard supply, mitigated by cooperation toward realizing the most
value from all the resources conserved. Reuse, recycling, and composting
enterprises all should have access to two income streams: one from suppliers
and one from buyers. Recovery businesses must be allowed to compete on a
level playing field with wasting industries. Eliminating subsidies will make
it clear that wasting is an economic, as well as environmental, disaster.

Materials too mixed and contaminated to be reused, recycled, or composted
should continue to be subject to all existing solid waste laws protecting
public health and safety. Recyclable materials that do not endanger public
health and safety should not be subject to regulation as "solid waste."
Recovery businesses that deal in clean, separated materials should be subject
to normal business regulations regarding licensing, zoning, and public

The full costs of landfilling and incineration, including all hidden tax
subsidies and governmental supports, decommissioning, and long-term security
or cleanup, must be reflected in current tipping fees. We should sort out and
reform the current contradictory and confusing local, state, and federal laws
that favor wasting by landfilling and incineration and act as barriers to
competition for the discard supply. The goal of public sanitation is best
served by total materials recovery: Zero Waste.


The materials recovery industry is growing rapidly all over the world. We,
the Grassroots Recycling Network, are working to accelerate this trend by
adopting, publicizing, and promoting the goal of Zero Waste. Zero Waste is a
metaphor powerful enough to propel humankind into and through the new
millennium now just three years away. The time for temporizing and
half-measures is over. We want Zero Waste in our lifetimes, and we will work
together to create it!



End of GreenYes Digest V97 #28